Yes, My Gifted Child is a Know-It-All: A Case for Acceleration

“Mom, I swear, they must have put me in remedial math. I am the only one who knows what is going on—I know everything!”


This was my youngest gifted son after three weeks in 6th grade at his new school. When we registered him at this school, I had provided them with all of his testing and scores from a recent, thorough educational evaluation done privately by a child psychologist who was well-known in our area. The psychologist had written a note to the school strongly recommending our son be placed in the school’s honors math class based on his math test scores, and I firmly requested that my son be placed in honors math, also. I trusted the school would not have an issue with this—they had all the test scores, documentation and a child psychologist’s recommendation.


It should have been a no-brainer


In the first weeks of school, my son had been complaining to me about how boring math was and how he was the only one in the class who knew what was going on. I assured him that the first few weeks were likely review and that it would get more challenging as the year went on.    It didn’t.    He kept complaining.   Then he took matters into his own hands and in front of his classmates, he insisted to his math teacher that he could help his teacher explain math in better ways so that his classmates could understand it all as he himself did.

He told his teacher he knew better mathematical strategies than what the teacher was teaching in class. He was trying to help his teacher and his classmates by solving a problem he felt needed to be rectified. I was proud he wanted to help, but we had a talk about the inappropriateness of what he had said.


Problems and unacceptable behaviors arise when gifted students are left bored and unchallenged.


He was bored and I knew it. So, I called the school only to find out that new students are rarely placed in the honors math class despite test scores because the honors math teacher only took students she herself had chosen. I spent the entire school year fighting the school on this while my son ended each grading period with a 100% in math on his report card. His boredom was apparent and his regular math teacher also grew tired of the resultant behavior from my son. On one particular day after my son had spent the entire class period drawing caricatures in his math notebook, his regular math teacher, frustrated, pulled him out in the hall and angrily said to him, “I’m tired of this crap! You need to start paying attention!”


What are we doing by not accelerating?


How can we expect students who have already mastered the information being taught to pay attention in class? How can a student who is left unchallenged in the classroom learn how to study, work hard and manage his time when school is a breeze, or boring? How will our gifted children grow up learning to strive for what they want when, held back, everything is so easy for them? And when we hold them back and fail to accelerate them, why then should we be surprised when they grow to realize they know more than every child in their class?

With current trends in educational pedagogy stressing grit, a growth mindset and a rigorous curriculum, it seems this is all lost on gifted, high-ability students who are being held back.1 Our gifted children can never learn grit when their education is unchallenging. A growth mindset will not be adopted when high-ability students are not presented new and more difficult information to grow their minds. And when gifted children are being left to relearn subject matter grade levels below their ability, there is no rigor in a gifted child’s education.


No one likes a know-it-all, but we may be producing know-it-alls in our schools. 


When we hold gifted students back and fail to accelerate them to a level which best meets their educational needs, should we be surprised when our gifted children seem like know-it-alls? If truth be told, these high-ability children when held back in the classroom and are just trying to endure endless lessons on information they already know or have grasped too easily, probably do know it all within their current grade-level placement.

My youngest gifted son, of course, was a know-it-all in his 6th grade regular math class. He did know it all as evidenced by his consistently perfect scores in math, and he should have been accelerated, placed into the honors math class to learn how to work hard by tackling rigorous, challenging subject matter.

When a gifted child is consistently ahead of his classmates and is never allowed to accelerate, be challenged and sometimes fail, he will grow to falsely believe he just may know everything—and this is a dangerous attitude for any student to develop. A  gifted child’s entire K-12 school career, if not accelerated as needed, may be spent knowing more than everyone else. A child’s life is shaped by his environment and his life experiences which can nurture his strengths, break his spirit or give a false sense of himself. When we allow gifted students to go unchallenged in their education, their self-awareness that they likely know more than most also goes unchallenged.


Acceleration is the answer.


The findings in the recent release of the extensive research on acceleration for high-ability students, A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students, conducted by the Acceleration Institute, part of the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Center, prove that acceleration is effective, feasible and has negligible draw-backs. 2

According to the study, acceleration is inexpensive, can be implemented in various ways, supports the social and emotional development of the students, and has proven to be a very successful method of providing gifted and high-ability students the challenging education they need.



So, what is holding us back from accelerating our gifted and high-ability students?




1. “The perils of “Growth Mindset” education: Why we’re trying to fix our kids when we should be fixing the system”, Alfie Kohn, Salon, August 16, 2015

2. “A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students”, Susan G. Assouline, Nicholas Colangelo, Joyce VanTassel-Baska, and Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik, Acceleration Institute, 2015



Hoagies’ Blog Hop March 2015: Acceleration 

“An Acceleration Journey”, Lisa Conrad, Gifted Parenting Support, August 27, 2015

Acceleration Institute, Belin-Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, University of Iowa

Academic Acceleration, Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page

Acceleration, National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)




30 Comments on “Yes, My Gifted Child is a Know-It-All: A Case for Acceleration

  1. Hi I just wanted to share some exciting things that they are doing in my boys school which is so helpful for them.

    My boys are 5 and 8 and at a wonderful public school in New Zealand.

    Our school has committed to individual learning plans This means that students are able to work at the level that is appropriate for them while staying in a classroom with their age peers.

    For example: In the junior school the core subjects of reading, writing, phonics and maths are grouped across the syndicate. Kids are used to moving,class and teacher so they learn with the group at their level. So my 5 year old is reading and doing phonics and maths with kids two years ahead of him but writing (which he is just starting to learn) with age peers. Movement between the groups is really fluid as kids progress at their own pace. This of course demands that the teachers are well planned and highly collaborative. The spaces they us support this too – the class rooms are interconnecting and are able to be joined into larger spaces with 3 teachers teaching and supervising 3 classes worth of kids. The usual pattern is for two to be leading group work while the other supervises the self directed work.

    For my older son huge amounts of his day are self directed. He is in a class with 60 kids and two teachers. He’s a motivated and independent learner so this suits him down to the ground. The kids who are not spend much more of their time in teacher led activities. Lots of their learning is formatted into ‘pathways’. So the whole class may be working on fractions but they join the pathway where their knowledge begins and follow it until they get stuck, or need help – no matter where in the curriculum that lands. This means that my son is always working at that brilliant point of it being challenging. For him it’s working really well – he now says he’s never bored, it’s never too easy plus he keeps motivated because he can see that there is always more to learn.

    I guess I meant this just as an illustration of other possibilities. Lots of the gifted material I’ve read talks about advocating for grade acceleration – that simply isn’t an option here, plus we don’t have gifted classes or honour roll classes.

    • Deana,

      Your boys’ school sounds amazing and it seems like it is using a Montessori type of approach which is wonderful. Here in the U.S., there is so much standardization based on grade levels that would make such an approach almost impossible, so acceleration especially up to the next grade level is the more pragmatic solution, not necessarily the best overall. Your boys are in a great place for sure and I thank you for sharing how this approach to education. Many of us here in the U. S. would love to have our gifted children in a classroom setting such as yours where they can work at their own level without having to be put in a class of much-older children!

      Thanks so much for sharing, Deana!

  2. Errata:
    (1) This sentence “never mind that I have worked three times as long as an IT specialist/consultant than i did as a gas station attendant 19 years vs four years” should have been FIVE times as long, not three times.
    (2) The link about Nobel Prizes is this:
    (3) This sentence: “I hate ignorance if and when use it as a shield to hide their own incompetency or laziness. ” should read: I hate ignorance if and when people use it as a shield to hide their own incompetency or laziness.

  3. My daughter had to be pulled from both public and then a private school because of her need for more challenging work than was being offered. In fourth grade, her teacher made her stay with the class for ELA because she exhibited anxiety issues (she tests with the Stanford Achievement test every year – ELA was rated as a post-high-school level for her….). Why, you ask? Because she was Bored, Bored, BORED!

    In the end, I decided to homeschool. Now, she is able to move quickly through lessons. I allow her the freedom to test on subjects before we study them. If she passes with at least a 90%, then we move on to the next subject and/or hit the one concept I may have missed instead of reviewing all of it. (and yes, we still take the SAT’s each year to ensure we are not missing any concepts.)

    If you can do it, I suggest this as a wonderful way to get around all the crazy things our schools now do to make children into cookie-cutter cutouts.

    • You made the right educational choice for your daughter, Jayne! Your story is not unlike so many families of gifted children who choose homeschooling so their child can learn at their own accelerated pace and it sure looks like you are doing all the right things. I’ve often wondered why the vast majority of people would acknowledge that a child who is progressing slower than the rest of her class would need remediation, BUT a child who is progressing at a much faster pace than the rest of her class has to fight for acceleration. Why does our educational system slap a ceiling on how fast and how far our gifted children can progress in school?

      Jayne, thank you for sharing your story–sadly, it is nearly identical to the 1000’s of comments I’ve received from parents just like you. Adding your story to the many others here lends credibility to our message! Thank you!

      • Ms. Trepanier – I believe the ceiling is there due to a misconception that accelerating a child will place them on an unequal footing with their “peers” as defined by age. I was told that because my daughter was one of the youngest in her grade, moving her up and/or putting her into more challenging classes would make her feel ‘weird’ and she would not grow to socialize properly. I found the opposite to happen, she is now happy to socialize within her own age group as long as she doesn’t have to study with them:)

        • That’s true, Jayne, studies have shown that accelerating children has no negative social repercussions for gifted children. As you said, the opposite is true. It is upsetting to know that educators do not use acceleration most often because of completely false beliefs which have been proven wrong by research. I just have to shake my head.

          • “It is upsetting to know that educators do not use acceleration most often because of completely false beliefs which have been proven wrong by research. I just have to shake my head.”

            Why are you shocked about this? Or are you shocked Celi? Since “we all know” that gifted kids will do “just fine” on their own in the educational system, why waste resources researching giftedness, why waste taxpayer money helping gifted kids, why even have the category of “giftedness” since it’s not “fair” to non-gifted kids?

            Devoting money to doing and disseminating research is like giving tax-subsidies to the uber-rich, isn’t it?

            After all, “we all know” that giftedness is just the result of hothouse / helicopter parenting; “we all know” that even the designation of giftedness is an elitist move, designed to make upper middle class parents feel good about their kids at the expense of other children; “we all know” that giftedness is made up by a bunch of left-wing liberal psychologist intellectuals who want to do …. something, I am not sure what; “we all know” that “All Men Are Created Equal” means that everyone is basically ‘exactly the same’; “we all know” that giving money to giftedness programs is taking money away from children who *really* need the help, instead of the spoiled-rotten children of overbearing parents who want to make sure that their Johnny or Janey gets ‘only the best’.

            Yeah, right. It’s also the case that “we all know” that the Earth is flat, Tomatoes are poisonous, if you sail too far from the coast, ‘There be dragons thar’, that will eat you, the Earth was created 10,000 years ago, as Bishop Ussher stated, “I deduce that the time from the creation until midnight, January 1, 1 AD was 4003 years, seventy days and six hours.” Six hours before midnight would be 6 pm. (; and of course, “we all know” George Bush brought down the Twin Towers so he could invade Iraq, two years and several months later ( EVERYONE KNOWS THAT!

            Few people know the research about giftedness, because there’s a form of political incorrectness about being pro-gifted. Radical Egalitarian hard Leftists, reactionary religious and social conservatives, bullies who are now grown-up, every single semi-failed mediocrity who is also a parent, and my favourite, the Poseurs (people who pretend and try and convince others that they the Poseur is a genius, and so you should just damned-well ignore those nerds over in the corner with their stratospheric IQs) all come together in an unholy alliance to suppress the notion of the existence of giftedness, each for their own reasons, but together make up a monstrous cabal to decry and deny the very existence of giftedness. The emotional motivations are broad: (misplaced) fairness, suspicion, jealousy, envy, hatred, but the results are the same. Few educators go out of their way to promote or advocate for gifted students, or try to learn about giftedness, because not only do these groups mitigate against giftedness as a real phenomenon, but North American culture has an anti-intellectual streak a mile wide running down its centre (funny, though that the USA is the #1 producer of Nobel Prizes []).

            As you know, Celi, I did a lot of reading after my beatdown-by-proxy issued to me by my ex-friend’s brother, pissed off and ‘morally outraged’ that a mere gas station attendant — me — (never mind that I have worked three times as long as an IT specialist/consultant than i did as a gas station attendant 19 years vs four years) dared, DARED, mind you, to think that I could be a genius (my IQ is 4.33 standard deviations above average). And to add outrage upon outrage, that this mere gas station attendant (me) would even THINK of joining MENSA. So of course, I had to have the beat-down-by-proxy, to “put me in my place” and “maintain the natural order of things” (i.e, Bill the Poseur-Genius on top, me face-down in the mud).

            In that reading, and upon happily stumbling upon your blog, I came to the realization that giftedness in and of itself is a gift, but the social and external costs imposed by others makes being gifted more of a curse than a gift.

            So ignorance prevails, at least for now, which is always what happens when raw emotionality, demagoguery and sloganeering/jeering goes up against Facts, Logic, Evidence, and Reason; irrationality and illogic, emotion and (misplaced or displaced) anger prevail in the short term. Ultimately, as we have seen through human history, intellectual progress progresses, even if there were or are those (Nazism, Fascism, Communism, Islamism) who stand against intellectual diversity and progress. But the problem is, it takes a HELL of a long time for Reason to triumph over irrationality (reason is defined by economist Frederich Hayek as the combination of experience with knowledge — sorry, no citation).

            I realize it may be a stretch to combine history, economics, sociology, psychology, and psychiatry to explain why there is so much antipathy toward giftedness and genius. But few can doubt it’s there. To explain it, perhaps, can lead to defusing and disarming such pathological antipathy, whether the intents are noble (egalitarianism) or venal and vicious.

            St. Augustine wrote that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and the road to heaven is paved with good acts. Blogs like this, educators who care about disseminating scientifically valid information about giftedness, parents (and teachers) who point out that gifted children really are different from regular children, and really need specialized help, all of this constitutes good acts.

            I apologize for ranting, which I do all too often on this blog (and I appreciate the opportunity to vent my spleen here). But I hate to see children’s educations cut short or damaged, gifted people’s self-esteem and self-worth undercut by stupid ignorance. For goodness’s sake, we live in the 21st century, not the 12th! How difficult would it be for educators to use Google to search the terms “gifted children social acceleration”? I did that search and got approximately 727000 ‘hits’, and it took me less than a minute to find that out. Laziness is no excuse nowadays with the enormous research tools (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc) we have at our disposal. I hate ignorance if and when use it as a shield to hide their own incompetency or laziness. Jayne never should have had to have her child go through such a ridiculous process to get the help she needs.

            Okay, Celi, the crazy gifted nut-bar is getting off his soapbox — only, maybe, just maybe, I am not that crazy? Thanks for letting me vent.

          • Nah, John, I am not “shocked”, I am disgusted, confused, dismayed and upset that intelligence and common sense does not prevail when it comes to acceleration.

            “I came to the realization that giftedness in and of itself is a gift, but the social and external costs imposed by others makes being gifted more of a curse than a gift.” <---This explains perfectly the terrible situation gifted people find themselves in. Well said! As always,thanks to you, our "crazy nut-bar", for getting on you soap box and being a strong advocate for all gifted individuals!

  4. Pingback: Words You SHOULD Say to Your Child’s Teacher | Through a Stronger Lens

  5. Great article! This is the first year that I have seriously considered pulling my son to home school him. The only thing that really stops me is his school has a strong arts and Micro Society program and he loves his school and wants to stay but he comes home bored every day.

    His teacher has admitted he is bored and wants to try to “enrich” him but she is so busy trying to get the other children to meet state standards that she doesn’t have much extra time. Even with knowing he is bored my son has to read 2 grade levels below his current level for his AR tests. He read a book at an appropriate level and is not allowed to test because it is “too high for a fourth grade student.”

    • Cindy, could your school work with you in some way to allow your son to move ahead on his own with possibly an online program? There might be a creative way where he could be accelerated with your help and the school’s oversight? Or you could always print out this article along with the research report on acceleration from the Belin=-Blank Center to give to them–I mean, it is called Accelerated Reader (AR) for a reason 😉

      And what a crazy statement: “too high for a fourth grade student.” Does that mean they believe we can only have 4th graders who are below grade level and no child is ever above grade level? Common sense tells us that there will always be people above- and below-average for any skill!

  6. I’m just reading into gifted waters. Or I guess revisiting. I was the new kid on multiple occasions. Often doing work I had done 2 years before. And you don’t always escape that in the work place. Now my little one sits in a kindergarten class “learning” how to recognize letters when she’s been reading for 2 1/2 years. I see the boredom starting to creep in because I know it well. If the tests I’ve given her are to be believed she’s reading at a late 4th Grade level. When I bring this up I’m “that parent.” So I get her library books and hope I can find a better solution.
    Thanks for your posts. It helps knowing others are also wandering on this path.

    • Hi Melanie!

      Yes, sadly, there are many of us with gifted children who are walking along this dizzying path. I have lots of posts here with tons of information, but the many who have commented on my posts have great information to offer all of us, too. You are definitely not alone and you will find many of us willing to help and support you on your journey!

      Keep in touch, Melanie!

      • Just thought I’d follow up. After many school visits and emails they finally agreed to test my daughter with the Accelerated Reader progam. They told us not to expect much since they”never test a child this young.” They were telling the truth there because the AR wouldn’t let them list her as a kindergartener. The result? They listed her as a 1st grader and she still tested in the 99th percentile nationally. Her official reading level was 4.9 in December. She is now bringing home higher level books to test on weekly. I’ve so noticed that in these few weeks her previously average math skills are improving. I don’t know if there is a correlation but it seems so. She’s more engaged in school overall. Our fight is far from over but I want to thank you and the people who have shared their stories for giving my husband and I the courage to fight for our child. I share this because we learned that knowing you’re not the only one helps so much!

        • YAY! YAY! YAY! What a win!

          I’m sure with your daughter able to read on her level, it likely gives her needed encouragement and self-confidence. It only makes sense that if you teach a child on their level, meet them at their level, they will feel happy, content and self-assured. It promotes the joy of learning instead of holding them back which promotes boredom and a dislike for school.

          SO, SO happy you shared this win with all of us! We all need to hear the wins for our own encouragement!!! Thanks, Melanie!

  7. I don’t know if this fits in with acceleration. It certainly has some crossover with the burdens of giftedness, of posting you put up in 2014. But this has been something on my mind for quite a while and it really aggravates.

    I’m talking about poseurs. That is, people who act as though they’re extremely intelligent and clearly aren’t. If 2% of the population is said to be gifted, there’s at least 10% of the population that could best and most kindly be described as false positives. These are people who want everyone to think but they are gifted, but who clearly are not.

    They fall into several types. The first and most obvious is the sort you run into in high school. These are mostly guys, in fact almost exclusively guys around grade 8/9 or so, and they think that because they are tough or have unusually large genitalia, or a really good with girls, that they have some form of genius. They will easily beat up the nerdy kids, on the assumption that, by beating them down, they raise themselves up. These kids tend to drop out by grade 10 or so or end up in juvenile delinquent programs or some other nasty end, which frankly they usually deserve.

    The next type is the narcissist, and one encounters these types throughout high school, University, and in the workplace. They are convinced that they are the one sole genius in the whole world, and anyone smarter than them must be a pretender, and thus must be crushed and if possible embarrassed and humiliated to the point where they contribute nothing, while the narcissist contributes their own mediocre crap.

    The third type is the status freak. These usually are competing professionals who, because of some fluke of luck end up in some large corporation, where they act as a small cog in a very large machine. They love to lord over everyone how magnificent they are simply because they have a job in a big company, and must therefore be worshipped as demigods.

    Fourthly, there is also of course, the psychopath, someone who wants to impress for the simple reason that it validates their existence and makes them feel like they’re worthwhile, usually by pounding the holy crap out of the smart people around them, or tricking them into some low level position where the psychopath can dominate over the gifted person and thus feel superior.

    Many of these types end up as bullies, because their egos are so fragile, they cannot handle dealing with anybody who might outsmart them.

    All of these people share some common traits. Firstly, they strive very hard to convince others that they are the sole and exclusive genius in the world, or at least in that person’s immediate orbit. A second trade is that they convince themselves that everything they do is genius. So for example they breathe as geniuses; if they have a bowel movement, it’s a genius bowel movement. I realize that sounds like an exaggeration, but for some of them they really do believe that every single action they take marks them as genius. The third trait is the tendency to be extremely threatened by actual geniuses. They do everything in their power — usually using personal attack and insults — to try and destroy the character and reputation of gifted or genius people around them. They cannot stand the idea that someone else could possibly be nearly as smart as they are. The problem is, of course, that they are nowhere near as smart as the people they seek to destroy.
    Given the fact that they think that everything they do is an act of genius, when they encounter someone who is truly gifted or genius, and who recognizes that not everything a gifted person does is an act of giftedness, they will act to humiliate such a person, arguing that if the gifted person really is gifted, why do they deny that so much of what they do is ordinary? After all, reasons the poseur, everything the poseur does is genius, why would these gifty types deny it unless they were fakes?

    The final trait and the most dead giveaway, that the person is a false positive, a poseur, is the fact that far from admiring great minds of science art and literature, they denigrate and insult them, claiming that they’re genius, as their mediocrity is far greater than the genius of an Einstein, Mozart or Rembrandt.

    Imagine the poor student who is gifted, and is really far more interested in learning then in blowing their own horn, surrounded by people who insist that they deserve pride of place because they can blow their horn the loudest. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Meanwhile, while these poseur-people get love and adoration based on false premises, gifted and genius kids, the Nerds are berated and abused for their troubles. How on earth does one separate oneself from such mediocrity when the mediocrity screams much more loudly about their magnificence then do the gifted kids or adults?

    It seems to me that is very difficult to manage to appear intelligent around people who glom all the credit for themselves, while busily suppressing those who truly deserve to be recognized as gifted.

    In my opinion bullies come in two flavours, where it comes to the gifted. The first type are those who don’t understand giftedness, and therefore reject it as being different. The second type are made up of those four categories whom I have listed above, and who are in a desperate struggle to prop up their own sagging egos, and must do so by crushing the tall puppies around them.

    And don’t think one escapes them in adulthood. I just encountered someone on a website that focuses on technical matters, and his entire argument essentially focused on how inferior I was, and how superior he was, because he worked in a big corporation as a computer specialist, whereas I merely work with small and medium-sized businesses as a computer specialist. His argument against Linux was simply based on the fact that he was a big enterprise computer geek and I wasn’t. Talk about arrogance.

    I also had a three year ongoing vicarious battle with a guy who thought that because I was a mere gas station attendant for 4 years, I had real nerve to even think about joining Mensa, when clearly at least in his mind, he was the only true genius for thousands of light years around.

    Except for avoiding such types, I really don’t know how to deal with such people. They are such a severe pain to deal with, very obnoxious, and their obsession is so enmeshed in their personality, that it’s nearly impossible to convince them of their inaccurate self-assessment.

    As I say, the only solution upon encountering such types is to get away from them as quickly as possible if that is possible. But in some situations such as work, that isn’t practical, and given that these types are nearly impossible to dissuade, the person who ends up suffering is almost invariably the gifted person. Unfortunately it’s illegal to shoot such types, so I am afraid that the world is stuck with a big chunk of people who do ridiculous things like thinking that swearing on Twitter constitutes genius, making everyday, pithy trite observations (that have been repeated endlessly by others ) is genius, or that bad driving is good driving, or that any number of other things which common sense tells us are ridiculously bad, they think are brilliantly genius.

    They are part of the reason why giftedness isn’t a gift.

    • “Imagine the poor student who is gifted, and is really far more interested in learning than in blowing their own horn, surrounded by people who insist that they deserve pride of place because they can blow their horn the loudest.” <---This. This is what rang the loudest for me. To me, anyone who has to brag, boast, explain, or state that they are smart, gifted or highly intelligent shows that they probably lack a sense of security in who they are. Like that saying goes, "actions speak louder than words" and it is appropriate here. I've told my own sons that if classmates or acquaintances have to tell you how great they are, they are probably not. And that goes for parents who want you to know how great or gifted their children are. The ones who are not blowing their horns are likely the ones who have the right to blow their horn, but don't feel the need to. Thanks John for sharing your insights! I think we have run into all these types of people.

  8. I couldn’t get accelerated for the simple reason that I was/am 2x exceptional. It was very hard for teachers to believe that I was gifted, since my handwriting was so terrible. That was back in the late ’60’s and the 1970’s, before the advent of personal computers. The mechanics of writing were so physically difficult for me that i could never get good grades on long essays unless my father typed them out for me (and once I learned to type, in grade 9, I had at least partial relief).
    Even then, the fact of my difficulties in handwriting sometimes got me into more trouble than help. I did an essay on Black Holes for my grade 6 science class. The teacher had a method for writing papers, in which one wrote down notes, assembled the notes into a rough draft, edited the rough draft into a good draft, and then copied out the good draft in one’s best handwriting, as a final draft. Well, I hated that method. I did (and still do) most of my writing in my head; putting it to paper wasn’t the writing, because I’d already written the paper mentally. So what I did with this paper was to dictate it to my dad, who typed it out on the typewriter. Mr. Apedale (yes, that was his name) gave me an “F”, because I couldn’t give him my rough notes, rough copy, or good copy. He accused my dad of writing out the paper for me. My father met with Mr. Apedale, and tried to impress upon him that since I knew far more about astronomy than my dad, did, that I had written the paper, and all he had done was to type it. Well, Mr. Apedale raised my grade to a C minus, again because I didn’t have my rough notes, rough copy, or good copy. My father appealed it to the principal, who said it was an excellent paper, but had to abide by Mr. Apedale’s judgement. Mr. Apedale re-read it, and gave it a C+, again because I lacked my rough notes, rough copy, or good copy. So Mr. Glass, the principal, had one of the vice-principals read it. He told us the paper, if it were his class, would have gotten an A plus. The principal, the vice-principal, and my father all met with Mr. Apedale, who finally re-read the paper, and gave it an A minus, again because I didn’t submit my rough notes, rough copy, or good copy. Thereafter, Mr. Apedale hated me for the remainder of the school year, and did everything he could to embarrass and humiliate me; he often punished me for stuff that myself and other kids would be doing, but only I (and perhaps a couple of other bright kids) would be punished for it.
    Advancement? I told the story above previously; here’s another one I’ve mentioned previously. I failed grade seven because of severe bullying, and some family/home issues I don’t wish to discuss here. So I was placed in a provincial government school for children with behavioural disorders (Called the Maples, it also housed violent adolescents in a residential unit. I was NOT in that unit, as i wasn’t violent). After I left that school, I was integrated back into regular school, in my case Sir Winston Churchill High School. As a result of both my parents’ having gotten me psychologically assessed, as well as being assessed at the Maples, the staff at the high school told my parents that they had one of two ways I could be dealt with: either as a gifted student (though officially, thanks to the radical left-wing Teacher’s union, the School Board did not officially recognize the existence of Giftedness, as it was thought to be a social-class-driven thing, not a real phenomenon), or as a disabled student. So my parents opted for the disability route, as it was thought that given my poor handwriting, I could never have kept up to the other kids in the two “mini-schools” for “accelerated” students (G0d forbid the school board should ever call us “gifted”).
    I was “sentenced” (my term for it) to the “trailers” at SWC, the place where all the low-achieving students went. I won’t repeat all the details, but I can put it thusly: the Learning Assistance and Learning Resource teachers kept giving me books that I had to finish in two weeks, but which I’d complete in a day or two. I did this so often, that the LR and LA teachers decided to give me school aptitude tests. As a grade eight student, I was testing out as being able to read and comprehend, as well as compose, at a FIRST YEAR UNIVERSITY student. Finally, the Learning Resources teacher asked me what I was reading. Out of my bag — and remember, I was 13 years old — i pulled out Marx and Engel’s Communist Manifesto, a book about medieval castle defensive battlements, and John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government, all of which I was reading approximately simultaneously. Most students were ‘fired’ from the trailers for behavioural problems. To that point, I was the only student ‘fired’ for being too advanced for them to help.
    My problem wasn’t with reading anyway. It was with my handwriting. The LA and LR teachers recommended I take typing, which was mainly for girls (this was the 70’s, so not a lot of Feminism had yet seeped into the thick heads running the school board). But learning to type helped, except I still had to produce a rough and good copy, and that had to, for some reason, be hand-written, which was essentially torture for me.
    A few high school teachers allowed me to forego the rough and good copy part of the essays, but even then some of them required me to produce notes, which I didn’t do, because I have an eidetic memory (“photographic”, but not really). I never needed rough notes because I memorized what I needed from my source books, and only had to go back to verify the page numbers, author(s), and year and house of publication.
    As I have mentioned before, it wasn’t until I learned how to write on computers (which allow one to easily edit and change text, without having to re-write the whole page as one does on a typewriter) that my grades shot up from C’s and B’s to A’s and some B’s. But that was university, and by then the concept of “acceleration” was a moot point. I tried, at my main university, to take graduate level courses, but the paperwork was massive, requiring not just the professor’s approval, but that of the department chair (and he did NOT want undergrads taking graduate courses, so virtually all requests stopped with him), then the permission of the Dean of Arts and the Board of Governors. One had to start applying to take grad courses a semester before the course started, because it took so long to get all the approvals. That was Simon Fraser University. By contrast, when I went to UBC, all one needed was the permission of the professor, and approval was automatic from there by the dept. chair, dean, etc. I took twelve graduate (Master’s level) courses at UBC, and got more A+’s than A’s or A minuses. None of my academic grades ever, in any grad course at UBC or elsewhere, were less than an A minus. I have most of the graduate course-work for a Master’s degree in counselling psychology.
    Now, I see my son going through the almost identical situation, as though nothing has changed in four decades. Like me, and like his mother, he has disabilities (he’s 3x exceptional, with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and giftedness). And like me, he’s easily bored. Yet his schools endlessly drill the same material for weeks on end, long after he;s mastered. it. So he gets frustrated, and loses what he’s learned, because the schools don’t challenge him. As result, far from being accelerated, he’s falling further and further behind. he’s 13, is in grade 6., being taught grade three materials. His mother and I (my wife) are both extremely frustrated, but we can’t do anything, and since they don’t live with me (they are in Mexico, and I am trying to bring them up to Canada), my wife hasn’t the resources to home-school him.
    Want to know how advanced he is? He taught himself how to read at age 3. he lost,at 2 years old, his English and regained his English again at age 3, once they returned from mexico back to Texas. His mother, however, spoke to him solely in Spanish (she’s Mexican), so clearly he taught himself, with almost no help from her.
    Acceleration? Try more like keeping one’s head above water.

    • John,

      Your stories about you and your son clearly demonstrate why acceleration is so desperately needed. Also, it shows that not every gifted child will excel in all subjects across the board. Accelerate in the subjects a gifted child excels in–don’t hold them back and keep them at the level of their weakest areas.

      Thank you John for sharing your experience and your son’s experience as gifted student. You are right, not much has changed in gifted education in many decades!

  9. My oldest son turned 13 in September 1984. First day home from junior high, he said, “I already took all the tests in the math book for fun, and only missed one problem, and I figured out what I did wrong on that one!”
    He’d been in a special program conducted by Johns Hopkins that summer, and they had recommended he begin taking calculus classes in college. So, he became a college freshman when he was still officially 12. (Try budgeting for that!)
    His body didn’t spend enough minutes in the classroom for the calculus to count as a junior high credit, so the junior high teacher came to agreement with him: He could do his university homework in the back of her classroom, if he would agree to take all the junior high tests with the rest of the class, so she could document that he was making A’s.
    It worked well. They respected each other, and did not get into a power struggle.
    I’m wondering, with the ubiquity of tablet computers and smart phones, would it be possible for the frustrated child to take some Khan Academy classes, or even some college classes, while sitting in the regular math class, wearing earphones? Yes, that means the child must be able to manage his time, and the teacher would need to be agreeable.
    (Our local university now charges half price tuition to part-time high school students. Getting an actual college scholarship before graduation from high school used to be impossible. I don’t know what the current law is.)

    • Mary,

      Again, many, many great ideas. I do know many public schools make use of Khan Academy for enrichment, remediation or as an adjunct. Honestly, I have not seen or heard of any school systems, schools or teachers willing to do make accommodations as your oldest son’s school did. And to defend teachers on this, their plates are too full already with discipline problems in the classroom and requirements for accountability (standardized tests). I don’t think our current public school system is set up for doing anything but teaching to the middle–they are just too saturated with “standardization” of education.

      But, what your son’s school did for him just makes logical sense. It seemed easy enough to implement. So, why can’t schools try to accommodate students who are more advanced than their age mates?

      Mary, you have a lot of workable suggestions from your personal experience–these can inspire our many parents who are currently having to advocate for their gifted child whose needs are not being met! Thank you!

  10. Thank you for the article, and I agree with the argument for “acceleration”, so far as it goes, but the “know-it-all-ness” you describe may not have the same root cause (boredom) in all gifted children, and acceleration may not be a panacea for all. For example, twice-exceptional children (Giftedness plus adhd or depression, for example) may suffer from impaired executive functioning that leads to socially inappropriate behavior like challenging a teachers authority in class. In other words, behaviors alone mat not tell the whole story. We needed extensive psychological testing, plus observation and plenty of information (SENG is a great resource) before deciding how best to help our son. In his case, acceleration underscored other deficits related to his adhd that we successfully addressed with medication.

    • Absolutely, George, you make several good points. Not every gifted child has the same needs or behaviors, and solutions will vary.

      As in the research findings of “A Nation Empowered”, acceleration should always be determined on a case-by-case basis, and acceleration can be implemented in different ways–subject acceleration, subject acceleration in the classroom or whole grade level acceleration.

      Gifted children, like all children, are not all the same and what works for one can be different for another. Yet, acceleration, even if warranted and needed for any gifted child most often is denied to parents requesting it. I’ve seen way too many families whose child needed acceleration in one form or another have to fight tooth and nail to get it. Acceleration needs more acceptance within our traditional school system as one way to give gifted kids the education they need.

      And all of the struggles with educating gifted children within a traditional schools is also why many parents of gifted children homeschool–to be able to give their child the education he needs.

      I’m so happy to hear that you were able to determine what your son needed and were able to meet his needs–that is not always an easy task with a happy ending. Thank you for sharing your personal experience because we all benefit from learning from each other!

    • Thank you, Gail. It is most frustrating when I see all the current educational philosophies focusing on a student’s effort, perseverance and strengthening his work ethic, but our gifted students who are often left with a much-less-than-challenging education, don’t have a chance to learn these important skills.

  11. In my case this quickly went from know it all to – I dont need to try and created an

    Argh its soooo frustrating!!!!!!

    • Natalie, that is not unusual–sadly. From what I’ve read, “boring” leads to “know-it-all” which leads to “this is still boring” which leads to “I give up” and then if they check back in and try to pay attention, they discover they may now be behind, and they are now back to “I give up” = underachieving. Why don’t schools get it? They speak about rigor, grit and growth mindset, yet many high-ability students are never given subject matter which is rigorous (and not just lots of extra busy work), challenging, and expands their mind.

      Yup, I feel your frustration because I have one of those, too 🙂

  12. Thank you for this post. I can relate so well as my daughter is a ‘know it all’. Our district is back and forth on acceleration — especially math.

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